Two weeks before Christmas, something was missing on Montego Road.
The 85,000 multicolored lights on homes, trees and yards flickered as always to Jingle Bells or Chuck Berry singing Run Rudolph Run.
But the half-block-long, synchronized light-and-music show played to a mostly empty street.
Homeowner Royce Trout, a retired fireworks executive, stood out front, looking both ways in bewilderment.
“I don’t know where everybody is,” he said, walking up to the lone car parked on Montego.
His LED-lit Rudolphs leaped the same way they have for the show’s eight years. Ice-blue lights shimmered in the trees, like sparklers falling in one of Trout’s Atlas Enterprises fireworks shows.
“Maybe it’s still too cold,” he said after I introduced myself.
He looked toward Ridgmar Boulevard again. No cars.
He shook his head.
“Man, it’s gettin’ close to Christmas.”
First iced in, then bogged down with delayed holiday chores, sightseers finally made their way this week to Montego Road’s high-tech light show.
For the Trouts and their neighbors, David and Jenny Boswell and Gordon MacPhail, Christmas is never far.
They start putting up lights in September. A wild-eyed Santa and candy canes go up after Halloween.
In November, they test and tweak light and color sequences for two 12-minute shows, relying mostly on songs from God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen to Santa Claus is Comin’ (In A Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train).
WBAP/820 AM radio host Hal Jay introduces the music over a low-power FM transmitter and explains the technology.
It’s a lot like Trout’s old music-and-color Atlas fireworks shows at Concerts in the Garden or Kaboom! Town in Addison, but with one exception.
“We used computers to fire the big fireworks shows, and I started getting curious about Christmas lights,” Trout said on Christmas Eve afternoon.
“The software and the technology are almost exactly the same — except when this show’s over, I can turn it back on again.”
The original show was partly the idea of their late neighbor Carla Thompson, lost to cancer in 2010.
Since Trout’s company did most of its $2-million-a-year business July Fourth week, he had time every fall to work on a neighborhood Christmas project.
“People are waiting here Thanksgiving night when we start the show,” he said, “and they’ll be here when we shut it down New Year’s Eve.”
(That’s a one-night-only show programmed to Auld Lang Syne.)
Even the ice this year didn’t chill the light show. The LEDs glowed through like lights beneath a skating rink, Trout said.
“It was really beautiful,” he said.
“But there were nights when there was nobody out here — just us.”
They don’t expect silent nights.
Boswell light show